When it comes to regional marketing, it’s a slightly different beast from the mainstream for a few reasons. Therefore, promoting, selling and distributing your product in a regional or rural area, will require an altered approach and a specialised set of skills. It may bring hurdles, but it also brings a unique set of advantages for your business when you have a strategic approach.
What is regional marketing?
Technically, the marketing industry refers to regional marketing as being marketing to specific interests and demographics in different geographical areas or segments – whether it is metro or other. But for this article, we are going to talk about marketing in regional and rural Australia and their communities, as well as taking a location-specific approach to your marketing.
Whether you have a business in a regional area and/or your target market is regional clients and customers, there are some key things you need to understand about how and why marketing in regional Australia is different to our city cousins.
How to make regional marketing work for you
While there are many misconceptions about living and working in regional Australia, there are actually plenty of marketing opportunities for those who know how to hook their target market.
Have an authentic message
Marketing may mean slightly different things to different people. As content strategists here at Blue Clay, marketing is all about aligning your messaging with your heart’s purpose, and then shouting it from the tractor shed roof!
It’s about letting people know how you can serve their needs and wants in a way that supports them in an aligned way. No doubt you have worked hard to develop your product or service, and now you want to attract the right people to do business with. We get you…
Country folk are some of the most salt-of-the-earth people you will ever meet. They are straight shooters and they don’t ‘do fluff’. They get real – and they get real FAST! They sniff out the B.S. and they build trust through connection. In other words, you can’t pull the wool over their eyes with fancy marketing tactics or clever taglines. It is going to take more…
Barns Lane Farm Example
Barns Lane Farm is an incredible example of ‘out of towners’ starting a business in the regional area. They worked hard to build trust with a local market and introduce themselves authentically over time with their local regional market.
Over time, they built relationships with local stakeholders, community groups and charities, to identify their needs and wants for their region. Bringing people on the journey is vital in situations like these as it builds trust.
One unique way they did this was by incorporating plans for a community hub, an opportunity to support local artists, and providing a platform for local Hinterland businesses to come together and offer their goods in one place.
They offered those producers easy access to the market with short-term leases that supported local producers to offer their goods in season, but didn’t require them to stick to a lease during their off-season. Barns Lane also embraced the laid-back experiences and ethos of the area of Coolum and integrated with both the needs of the visitors and the producers.
Know your market
Knowing your market is key. Talking to people the way they want to be talked to, and on platforms where they absorb their information, is marketing 101. Yet so many people try to use big-city methods in regional areas!
From a macro level, you need to take the time to research and understand the data, political issues and other key limitations and opportunities facing the region. Consider what the macro-environmental, cultural or economic issues facing the region are. And then work to feed into a solution to those issues.
It is also wise to consider your market on the micro level such as the local economy or social and cultural life. While these may also be macro issues, at the micro level you are looking to your local people and considering their needs and how you can help. Get out in the community and get to know local personalities and cultures.
In every case you need to consider:
- What data is important to help you make informed decisions?
- How can you address your audiences’ needs and pain points?
- How can you build understanding and compassion for the people you are trying to do business with?
- How can you be part of the solution?
Understanding these elements can lead to a whole new business opportunity or campaign idea!
RDA Riverina Country Change Example
The Regional Development Australia Riverina - Country Change initiative is a great example of this. They saw a need in their region to attract more tree changers. So they set out to create long-term change through education, addressing the key needs of their target market – city dwellers!
By identifying their pain points, Blue Clay was able to create a series of branded messages and content to speak directly to that audience. And we were also able to use our regional stakeholders and community to help us spread the word!
Know your regional platforms
In the regional areas, your marketing platforms might be different to the city. It’s important that you research where people are consuming information. Are they on Twitter? Or are they listening to their local A.M. news station? Are they using social media platforms or looking to their local community news forums for their local information?
While there are traditional marketing opportunities in the regional areas – such as TV and radio spots – you need to always weigh up your costs and your target market. It might be that YouTube ads or TikTok may be more appropriate. Or, that billboards and industry magazines, or even sponsoring local events, might give you the best ROI.
No matter what ideas your research yields, you always need to be thinking strategically. How will you track success? And how will you flexibly adapt your strategy if the platforms you choose aren’t giving you the results you’re looking for?
Create content that resonates with locals
If locals are your target audience, your content needs to speak to them. Even if you are looking to target the tourism industry, your content needs to take into account your local community. If you get them offside you may find that your business struggles!
Of course, the content that resonates with your community will depend on… well, your community! And that means diving in and getting to know them. Once you understand your local area, the people who live there and what they need, you’ll be in a strong position to provide them with content that solves their problems or provides them with value.
Using best content practices will then help you increase your ROI, to ensure that you’re getting the most value out of your hard work. You also need to remember your CALD community and tailor your content to their needs, too.
Build strong and lasting community connections
It’s not what you know, it is who you know… literally! Country connections whether it be friends, family, foes or fellow-workers, count! People want to know your intentions are true, especially in a service-based industry. And they want to know that you care not just about their business, but their community.
In regional areas, showing up to networking nights isn’t just about pushing your business card in people’s faces. It is about having a yarn about what is happening in the town and region. And having those conversations about how you can work together to find a solution – collaboratively. That might mean offering free advice, providing introductions or simply lending an ear.
Wholehearted connections build trust. But it will take showing up to more than one event!
Here are just a few ways you can show community support in regional areas:
- Sponsor local sporting teams and attend games
- Become an industry event host or sponsor
- Sponsor local business awards
- Sit on the Board of a local charity or community group that you truly care about
Implement local SEO
Local SEO is a strategy that aims to boost your business’s rankings in the local organic search results. It helps to redirect online users who are from – or interested in – a particular region right to your website. This is crucial if your business wants to become the go-to in a local region for a particular product or service.
There are many ways that you can implement local SEO, such as creating a Google Business Profile, encouraging online testimonials for your business, siloing your content with internal links and using keywords throughout your website and blogs that are specific to your particular region.
However, keep in mind that although local SEO can yield fantastic results for a regional business, there often isn't much traffic for keywords based on a regional area. So sometimes it’s difficult to do this traditionally. Paid ads, such as Facebook and Google ads, also operate differently in small regional towns.
Try to avoid relying on any marketing agencies that don’t fully understand regional markets. A strategic and targeted regional SEO campaign will use techniques such as local link building, online directories and citations, social listening and local landing pages.
Don’t be afraid to ask for regional marketing help
Remember that nobody expects you to be a regional marketing genius on top of all the other hats you already wear in your business. Should you need to ask for help, we’re here to answer the call.
Blue Clay knows regional Australia, and we know regional marketing. In fact, our founder and regional staff have all experienced the same obstacles and rewards working in rural communities. They draw on their own experiences and local knowledge to deliver strategic marketing for your brand.
We love helping regional businesses create content and marketing strategies that connect with their target audience – an audience we intuitively understand.
As we’ve said before, Regional Australia is where dreams happen! It’s jam-packed with people ready to lend a hand and help their community thrive. We have personally had the privilege of getting to know hundreds and hundreds of proud regional Aussies running heart-centred businesses and enterprises. And they never cease to amaze and inspire us – especially their businesses.
You now know what regional marketing is. But using it to your advantage might still feel like a specialist’s work. If you would rather outsource the strategising to us, and free up your time for working in the business, then simply contact Blue Clay or request a free consultation.
We have teams based in Canberra, the Sunshine Coast and the Riverina, and would love the opportunity to help your business reach its potential through regional marketing.